Whether you think of it as an eyesore or art, Graffiti on a Model Railroad is part of the modern railroad scene. Including graffiti, or “tagging,” on your model railroads is a personal choice. Those who include graffiti know it can be difficult and expensive using the limited selection of graffiti decals on the market. However, by learning how to draw your own graffiti, you can duplicate what you see trackside. Best of all, it requires limited artistic ability. If you can draw a line, you can draw simple graffiti.
There are several types of graffiti. The first is drawn or spray-painted lettering. This is the easiest type of graffiti to re-create on models. Balloon lettering is another style of graffiti. This style takes normal letters and turns them into wide outlines, similar to tracing around the edge of a lettering stencil. The letters may be further distorted by bending or stretching them to different sizes, angles, and shapes, leaving each with a fat, balloon-like appearance. Large block lettering is a third style that’s easy to reproduce. This style sometimes takes up the entire side of a railcar.
There are dozens of other styles of graffiti. Prototype photos, books, and the Internet are all valuable resources for graffiti ideas and techniques.
Graffiti with Paint Markers on the Model railroad
Paint markers, sold individually and in sets at art supply and big box stores, are offered in a variety of colors. One consideration when choosing a marker is the tip size, which varies from extra fine to wide. The tip sizes can be used to create different effects. Paint markers also work well for balloon lettering. A pencil makes it easy to change the shape or size of the letters without committing paint to the model.
Though paint markers are handy for adding graffiti to cars with smooth sides, they aren’t as effective for auto racks and cars with uneven surfaces. In these situations, modelers opt for airbrush to ensure even coverage.
If you’re looking to give modern era rolling stock some realism, try adding graffiti. Whether you use the paint markers, an airbrush, or both, these easy techniques will bring your cars into the 21st century.